- Sports and Recreation
Hitchhiking experiences that put me off being a hitchhiker
More bad experiences hitchhiking
In another article I revealed some of my bad experiences that led me to stop being a hitchhiker. In this second part I will tell you about some more very bad experiences that have put me off hitching a lift.
I was able to tolerate the terrible times I endured as a younger man but now that I am older I have had enough of taking such risks and stick to public transport. Where I am living now you never see any hitchhikers anyway and I was told that drivers can be prosecuted for giving lifts. I don't know if that is true but, as I said, you never see anyone hitchhiking on Tenerife.
I had several terrible experiences caused directly by police, and seeing as this was back in the seventies, when I see reports of how bad police can be today, I think well they were just as bad years ago. I must emphasise, however, that this does not mean all police are like this at all, but if you run into the bad sort it is the sort of thing you will remember as a bad memory.
Hitchhiker in Russia
Police problems in Snowdonia
Way back in the mid-seventies I was hitching back from Colwyn Bay in North Wales. It was winter and days were short and nights were long. It was the wrong time of year for getting stranded anywhere.
I had got a lift easily to start my journey. A very friendly hippie-type guy stopped and he invited me back to his house in the Snowdonia mountains for lunch. He had a lovely place and you could see cows in a field outside his living room.
I thanked him for the hospitality but said I needed to be making a move and he ran me back to the main road where I could continue hitchhiking my way down to Cardiff. It was early afternoon and all going well I could have made it down to South Wales if I managed to get the right lifts.
I said goodbye to my new friend and started hitching again and very soon a car pulled in. I couldn't believe my luck but swiftly that luck was about to change in a big way.
The driver said he was plain-clothes police officer and wondered if I wouldn't mind just answering a few questions at the local police station? Naively I agreed and thought a "few questions" wouldn't take long and it would give me a lift part of my way onward.
I was taken to Llanrhwst police station and that was where the problems really started. A team of police did all they could to humiliate and upset me by a long process of interrogation in which they were asking crazy questions like where was I an what was I doing at 2 am on the morning of some random date.
They asked me to describe what I was wearing which was totally pointless as they could see for themselves. Finding that I couldn't speak much Welsh they started cracking jokes and talking between themselves in the language.
From what I could gather they were looking for suspects for the murder of a man many moths before and setting fire to barn. It made no difference that I said I knew nothing about it and was not in the area then as I lived in Cardiff. At one point an officer took me in the adjacent courtroom and told me I could end up there.
I felt bullied and depressed, as well as being worried I wasn't going to get back home easily. They finally let me go after it had got dark outside. It was obvious to me that they had done this on purpose to make my potential chances of getting a lift as difficult as possible, having deliberately wasting my time all afternoon.
I finally got a lift at some point that evening to a services station from which I got another lift that got me back to Cardiff around four in the morning of the following day.
The Pros And Cons Of Hitchhiking by Roger Waters
Hitchhiking problems near Newport
I had another awful experience in which police were involved when I was hitchhiking at the Newport motorway access. I was standing on the legal side of the warning sign that says that no pedestrians and cyclists are allowed past it but a police car pulled up further along on the hard-shoulder of the road that took you on to the motorway itself.
They called out to me that they wanted to have a word and beckoned for me to go down to their car. As soon as I got there one of them said he was charging me with being a pedestrian on the motorway and demanded my details.
I protested that I was within my rights where I had been standing and it was his fault, but he wouldn't accept this and said I would be charged and summoned for my offence. Eventually the police let me go and the car drove off.
It was a very bad start to my day of hitchhiking and a week or so later I did indeed receive a summons to appear at a court in Newport for the charge of being a pedestrian on a motorway.
I attended the court and argued that it was the police constable's fault I was where I had been standing because before I went to talk to him and his colleague I had been on the other side of the sign. I was found guilty but given an Absolute Discharge.
Although I suppose I got off, I was disgusted with the treatment I had received.
Another time I was hitching back from somewhere and having got over the Severn Bridge had the short stretch of my journey ahead of me, only having Newport to go before I was back in Cardiff. Unfortunately the driver who gave me my last lift was only going as far as village with a turning off from the motorway and about another 10 miles to go to get to Newport.
I thanked him and got out and then things got much worse. The traffic was limited to one or two cars an hour as it got dark and cold. There were only a couple of farmhouses in the village, not even a pub. I had to get out of there somehow.
Eventually having concluded I would freeze to death if I stayed there much longer I decided I would break the law by walking down the motorway and didn't care if I got arrested. At least I would be taken somewhere warm.
But no police stopped me this time and I ended up walking the whole lengthy stretch before I reached the turn off for Newport itself. It was the early hours of the morning by now and I was feeling dead on my feet.
I spied some sort of office building with a light on and in desperation walked down the drive and hammered on the door but there was no reply. At that point in time I just wanted to ask anyone I could find for a drink of water and help but there was no one there or back on the road.
I couldn't go on and decided the best option now was to crawl under the bridge section because at least it provided some shelter. At that moment a car was passing and I stuck my thumb out, and success at last because the driver took me all the way to Cardiff. It was such a relief to be in the warmth of the car!
Hitch Hike by Marvin Gaye
King Arthur's trial
King Arthur Pendragon the druid eco-warrior and titular head of the Loyal Arthurian Warband (LAW) druid order to which I belong as a Quest Knight was due in court in Reading and had sent word to me to try to attend if possible to show some support.
Fellow knight and bard of the LAW, Pixi, was staying at my house at the time and I told him that King Arthur would much appreciate it if we could get to the court in Reading the next day.
So it was that Pixi and I got up really early and made our way from my house in Ely to Culverhouse Cross roundabout and interchange where there is a link road that takes you to the motorway that goes over the Severn Bridge and to London. Reading is along that route and if we could get just one good lift we could have been there by 11.30 am when it was due to start.
We got to the roundabout at around 6 am as it was getting light but even though there was loads of traffic no drivers would stop and the time was ticking by fast.
Around two hours had gone before we got a lift and the driver said he could drop us at Junction 32 services, which is on the way out of Cardiff. It wasn't ideal but beggars cannot be choosers and we jumped in.
That was really the end of it though because there was no way we could get a lift out of the service station and eventually it was going on for 11. It was obvious we had no chance of getting to Reading on time but we both knew we had tried our best.
Unfortunately there was no easy way out of the Junction 32 services for pedestrians. It was illegal to walk on the motorway and there were no other roads out of the place. Pixi and I checked with the people running the shop there and they confirmed this.
All we could do was go through some fields and hope for the best. Eventually after a long walk we hit a country road and ended up in the village of St Fagans where we went for a much-needed drink.
Pixi had his guitar with him and someone in the beer garden asked him to get it out and play some songs. Always willing to show of his skills as a minstrel Pixi obliged but then a member of staff from the pub came out and told him to stop or else we could leave. We finished our pints and left.